Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say widespread adoption of some of the building-block technologies needed for fully autonomous vehicles, short of the artificial intelligence, steering controls and advanced sensors they also use, can meaningfully and affordably reduce collisions and road fatalities.
In particular, three partially automated crash avoidance features – blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision-warning systems – can be particularly effective in reducing nearly a quarter of U.S. vehicle collisions annually, say the authors of the just-issued study. Used together, these technologies could potentially stop or lessen the severity of 1.3 million crashes per year, including 133,000 that would otherwise result in vehicle occupant injuries and 10,000 fatal crashes, according to the study.
Blind-spot monitoring, lane departure and forward collision warning systems are already able to save lives and reduce collisions, and do so economically.
The need for these features comes as regulators and auto manufacturers work to curb rising numbers of accidents caused by distracted drivers, including eight such fatalities and 1,161 injuries per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CMU study was based on 2012 accident data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when a total of 31,006 people died in vehicle collisions.
Distracted driving has certainly become a bigger issue and it’s not just people playing Pokémon GO.
The three safety features currently costs about $600 per vehicle, based on Toyota vehicles used as part of the university’s year-long study, and is only getting cheaper.
Were the three safety technologies identified by CMU to be deployed across the entire U.S. vehicle fleet, the annual savings in eliminating so many crashes would be at least $18 billion a year and as much as $202 billion, according to the study.
As U.S. regulators work on guidelines ahead of the introduction of fully autonomous cars starting around the end of the decade, safety technology is already poised to cut down on accidents due to questionable driver skills.